August 30, 2010 / 2:06 PM / 9 years ago

Somali rebels kill four AU peacekeepers

A boy runs across Howlwadag Street in Mogadishu during the third day of fighting between Somali government forces and Islamist rebels in Mogadishu, August 25, 2010. REUTERS/Feisal Omar

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Four Ugandan peacekeepers were killed in the Somali capital Mogadishu on Monday when al Shabaab Islamist rebels fired mortars at the presidential palace, an African Union spokesman said.

Uganda and Burundi have deployed more than 6,300 troops to the anarchic Horn of Africa nation to guard the port and airport and shield President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed from attack

Last week, the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab group vowed to intensify its holy war against the U.N.-backed government which it denounces as a puppet of the West.

“We lost 4 Ugandan soldiers in mortar fire on Villa Somalia this morning,” AU spokesman Barigye Ba-Hoku said, referring to the presidential palace. Another eight Ugandan soldiers were wounded, he said.

Ahmed said his government needed more international assistance against the militants who launched their first attack on foreign soil in July, killing 79 people in the Ugandan capital Kampala in twin bomb attacks.

“It is quite impractical to expect Somalia alone to contain the evil al Qaeda-al Shabaab alliance, as Somalia is emerging from 20 years of destruction and a chaotic political environment,” Ahmed said in a statement.

Reporting by Abdi Sheikh: Editing by Richard Lough and Jon Hemming

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